True Highlands Blog
The North Coast 500 route hits the top-left corner of the mainland at Durness. Just outside the village is the beautiful Balnakeil Beach, where cows often wander along the sand. Check out the nearby Balnakeil craft village, created in the 1970s from a disused military camp and now a creative community of artists. Don’t miss the hot chocolate and sweet treats at Cocoa Mountain.
Since you’ve come all this way, it would be rude not to take a side trip to Cape Wrath, the most north westerly point of mainland Britain. It’s owned by the Ministry of Defence and often used as a training area, so it can only be reached by a small ferry and connecting mini-bus service in summer. The cape features a Stevenson-built lighthouse and spectacular cliffs filled with seabird colonies, including guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, puffins and kittiwakes.
Heading east from Durness, the gorgeous Sango Bay has panoramic views of the North Minch. There’s also an excellent campsite and visitors centre. Nearby, and set into the limestone cliffs, is Smoo Cave, where a walking path leads right down into the huge mouth of the cave. At 15 metres high and 40 metres wide, it’s an impressive sight. Follow the path inside to see the magnificent 25 metre waterfall. You can also take boat trips further into the cave from April to September, weather permitting.
The route continues east and is single track in most places, often with more sheep and deer for company than other vehicles.
There are superb views of Ben Loyal and Ben Hope as you head towards Tongue.
The Kyle of Tongue itself has stunning white beaches and sparkling water, and the village makes a good overnight stop.
Other sights include Strathy Point, with the first Scottish Lighthouse built as an all-electric station and Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of mainland Scotland where you’ll have views right across the north coast on a clear day.
Close to Thurso is the Castle of Mey, holiday home to the late Queen Mother for nearly 50 years. You can stroll through the stunning castle gardens, visit the animal centre then refuel in the tearoom.
How are those plans coming along? Final leg tomorrow….. Saturday 16th May at 10am! Why not subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss it!
Written by Michael Surmon of Out there Campervans
All photos © Jiri Skripsky except Strathy Point. For more pictures visit www.skripsky-foto.ch
For North Coast 500 route map and GPS information visit the NC 500 websiteTags: ben hope, ben loyal, cape wrath, Durness, North Coast 500, north coast scotland, road trip route, Sango Sands, strathy point lighthouse, sutherland, Tongue, tour highlands, tour scotland